This week, The Walking Dead’s “Always accountable” (written by Heather Bellson) showcased Daryl, Abraham and Sasha just after they completed their part in the walker herding plan. Character focused episodes are nothing new on this show, and they’ve made up some of the series’ best installments over the years. But with 6.6, we didn’t really learn anything new about our three survivors. This episode seemed more like filler than anything else, even though there was an underlying thread about choices woven throughout. It did provide (as the show often does) a snapshot of the human struggle by exploring the psyches of a few individual characters. The problem is, we’ve seen that inner fight and its many variations before, and with far superior episodes like Season Four’s “The Grove.” So unfortunately, “Always Accountable” ended up feeling like nothing more than a summer rerun.
We open with Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham’s very long trek to the 20 mile mark finally completed (yes, I know the time line is repeating and it took place over a very short period but for viewers it’s been 6 weeks). Just as the three survivors pass it, they get shot at by some anonymous bad people. Abraham and Sasha crash their vehicle, while Daryl crashes his motorcycle, which sets up their separation and the events of this tedious episode.
Daryl goes into some burned out woods – a setting devoid of color and filled with creepy zombie bodies, some melted into the earth. There he stashes his motorcycle and happens along two women. One of them declares they earned what they took (a statement which won’t make any sense until the end of the episode), and then Daryl gets cracked in the back of the head with a baseball bat, falling unconscious.
Coming to a while later, Daryl sees three people rifling through his things and saying that he’s one of the soldiers from an outpost. When they order him to get up, the only thing Daryl says is “I ain’t who you think.” Now, I know if Daryl told them who he was and what he was doing there would be no episode, but the fact that he didn’t clear things up right away was just silly.
The man (named Dwight according to the cast listing) hatches a plan to go find “Patty,” and along the way tells Daryl that he, Sherry, and Tina fought off and burned the walkers around them when the zombie apocalypse started, assuming everyone else was also fighting wherever they were. After some more cryptic and hard to follow exposition, we learn the trio met up with a bad crew who expected them to “kneel” and who they are now running from.
When they get to a gate they see “Patty” is gone. Tina passes out, and Daryl takes the opportunity to grab their duffel bag (with his crossbow inside) and run. When he’s a safe distance away, and after struggling to get the crossbow out of the bag to kill a walker, he looks inside the duffel and sees a cooler full of insulin.
But the pivotal moment for Abraham comes when he goes up on the roof and finds a vehicle with RPGs in it. And wouldn’t you know it, a walker is hanging from said roof with a launcher on its back. Instead of just sticking a knife in the walker’s head and killing it, Abraham attempts to get the rocket launcher from the groping zombie, fighting it, screaming in its face, before finally recognizing his risky behavior for what it is. So he has a seat in the back of the truck and relaxes with a good cigar. This was supposed to be a moment of truth for Abraham, but we already saw him in despair last season after Eugene revealed his Washington D.C. lie. And he ultimately overcame that despondency, only to face it again in this episode. The bottom line is Abraham needs a good story; The character is just plain dull, even though Michael Cudlitz is more than a capable actor, infusing Abraham’s few lines with both bravado and resignation-tinged sadness. He can do more with Abraham, if the writers would only let him.
As luck actually seemed to be on a survivor’s side in this episode, the walker falls off the roof, leaving the rocket launcher, and Abraham brings it into the office, where he admits to Sasha that she’s right on the money about who he has become, even praising her for her ability to confront him. He then declares his romantic interest in Sasha, despite her “what makes you think I want that?” denial. It was a “What the Hell?” moment, because Abraham has never shown any of that kind of interest in Sasha before, but the writers need something to do with her as well, so enter a new survivor couple. And so poor Rosita will get pushed out of the picture. Of course she barely has any lines as it is, relegated to a few words with minor characters, so without scenes with Abraham she’ll be completely invisible.
Switching back to Daryl, we see that he does the right thing and returns the insulin, which was really no surprise. That’s why this episode was frustrating: We didn’t learn anything about these three characters that we didn’t already know. Abraham chose hope – again, Sasha reaffirmed the value of living, and Daryl decided to help others, even when it put him in danger. The whole episode felt like déjà vu, especially regarding Daryl. He’s always had that hero quality, despite his tough exterior – that’s one of the reasons we love his character. That aspect of his personality has only gotten stronger as the seasons have gone on, but really, even in season two he probably would have returned that insulin.
As Daryl arrives, the ‘soldiers” pull up, telling Dwight, Tina and Sherry they need to pay for what they took, because they know the rules. That’s when Sherry echoes her “we earned what we took” filling in the blanks from the beginning of the episode. Daryl helps the three escape, and when one of the soldiers follows them, he gets bit by a walker and “Wade” has to amputate the guy’s arm (then proceeds to tell the guy to “walk it off!”). The men back off, with Wade saying that “he” only wanted to take it so far. We don’t know who “He” is but with recent casting news we can venture a guess.
Daryl and the others get to an old greenhouse, where Sherry and Tina recognize two people they used to babysit. Tina is distraught and goes toward the pair, unaware they’ve turned. Tina somehow falls, and then, in quite possibly the most ridiculous scene ever to be shown on The Walking Dead, she sidles in between them (the deliberate way the actress performed the action cried out for another take) and gets torn to shreds by the zombies. The whole sequence looked fake and the motives to why the three were there in the first place were unclear. And Tina’s death made me feel nothing. In fact, by the end of this scene, I was kind of hoping Dwight and Sherry were next.
As Dwight digs the graves for Tina and the others, Daryl asks him Rick’s three vetting questions about walker and human kills. Satisfied with the answers, he offers Dwight and Sherry the chance to accompany him to Alexandria “where people are still like they were more or less…” They respond to his invitation by robbing Daryl of his crossbow and motorcycle at gunpoint. When they tell Daryl they’re sorry, Daryl utters the best line of the night with “You’re gonna be.” One way or the other, that decision is going to come back to bit those two.
Daryl finds a fuel truck which turns out to be the elusive “Patty” (A.A. Patrick Fuel Company) and meets up with Sasha and Abraham (who has donned a dress military uniform which was symbolic of – something, I’m sure). As Daryl tries to radio Rick one more time, we get the cliffhanger of the episode – a lone voice responding over the radio with a meek “help.” Of course, that could have been anybody’s voice, from Dwight needing real assistance to a Wolf trying to lay a trap. But we also know of one particular pizza delivery guy who was carrying a radio and might need saving from a ginormous horde of zombies.
This episode focused on two survivors who have not had a whole lot to do since meeting up with Rick’s group, and one who is much more complicated than this episode was able to show. The characters of Dwight, Sherry, and Tina were pretty one dimensional – and they only seemed to serve as vehicles for showing Daryl’s kindness in helping them out – twice. It’s likely they have some grand purpose in the comics, so perhaps this introduction was only the beginning of a more significant storyline for them. But the writers also have to remember that not everyone reads the comics, and for those viewers, each episode – and character – has to fit well within the current storyline of the TV series.
We’re moving very quickly toward the mid-season finale and for me, the last two episodes left a bit to be desired in terms of excitement. That’s not to say that each episode has to be non-stop action, but it has to at least focus on characters I’m very invested in – which other than Daryl – was not the case here (or for 6.5). Here’s hoping the next two episodes give us more with our main survivors, regardless of whether or not we learn Glenn’s fate. Because The Walking Dead is at its best when it’s showing Rick and his people working together, battling whatever comes their way (including their own demons) because life – even in the zombie apocalypse – is worth living.